Commission rules against Gilbert
LAS VEGAS – The Nevada State Athletic Commission rejected an agreed settlement of disciplinary action and order between Reno middleweight boxer Joey Gilbert and deputy attorney general Christopher Eccles in a hearing Saturday, stemming from a positive drug test last year.
Rather than support the stipulated agreement between Eccles and the 31-year-old Gilbert, the five-member panel, consisting of chairman John R. Bailey and commissioners Raymond “Skip” Avansino, Bill D. Brady, T.J. Day and Pat Lundvall, elected to proceed to a full evidentiary hearing in the future.
As a result, not only is Gilbert suspended indefinitely, his promoter’s license has not been reactivated for 2008. “Disappointed is an understatement,” Gilbert said of his feelings on the commission’s decision. “As a fighter, as we indicated in there, if you take too many backward steps, it’s over. I’ve been training now well over three months, trying to stay as sharp as I can in the hopes that this was going to end – I thought – in a fair manner. I mean, it’s been nine months (actually just over eight). It is what it is.
“I also do understand where some of the commissioners are coming from because it’s my integrity at stake as much as it is the commission’s and I respect that. I believe it’s in God’s hands. I believe he has plans for me and I just have to stay sharp and keep my head up and keep training.”
Gilbert (16-1, 12 knockouts) had been serving a temporary suspension retroactive to Sept. 21, when he scored a one-round technical knockout of Charles Howe, of Grelton, Ohio, at the Grand Sierra Resort.
In pre- and post-fight urinalyses, Gilbert, a former three-time national champion for the University of Nevada club boxing team, originally tested positive for six banned substances, including methamphetamine, amphetamine, the steroid Stanozolol metabolite, nordiazepam, oxazepam and temazepam.
After his B sample tested negative for methamphetamine in a test conducted by the Center for Human Toxicology at the University of Utah in December, the commission and the attorney general’s office dropped its pursuit of that charge, but subsequently pursued charges on the other five.
Gilbert and his current attorney and former law partner Mark Schopper of Reno were able to negotiate what amounted to a plea bargain agreement with Eccles. Gilbert admitted to unknowingly ingesting Stanozolol metabolite – he said he took 72 supplements leading up to the fight with Howe and that one of them likely caused the positive test – and Eccles said the other four drugs were prescribed by a physician. Eccles said Gilbert took valium, which breaks down into nordiazepam, oxazepam and temazepam.
Gilbert also tested positive for amphetamine, nordiazepam, oxazepam and temazepam following his 10-round stoppage of Juan Astorga May 12 at Reno Events Center and was subsequently warned in a letter by former commission chairman Dr. Tony Alamo not to take the drugs “before or during a fight.”
Keith Kizer, executive director for the NSAC, said he sent Gilbert a letter informing him that he had failed to list the banned substances before his fight with Astorga. In January, Kizer rendered moot a motion by Gilbert to remove him from further involvement in the matter by saying his role was complete.
Eccles also said his office didn’t recommend a fine for Gilbert, whom he indicated took a financial loss as the promoter for the Sept. 21 card, and that his eight-month suspension was sufficient punishment. He also said there were problematic issues for both sides, including the fact that Gilbert was cleared by commission doctors to fight Howe after he wrote down a list of drugs he had taken up to one month before that bout. There was also the matter of Gilbert’s understanding of what the words “before a fight” had meant when he consulted his prescribing physicians on when he could safely take the drugs and not test positive.
Nevertheless, the commission said it wasn’t bound by the agreement, preferring instead to move on to an evidentiary hearing, something that Gilbert, who turns 32 in June, took as a major setback.